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Do you remember when you sold that first item?  What was it? How long ago?

Do you remember how long it took you to figure everything out?  Did you spend hours or possibly days figuring out how to setup your account, taking a photo, writing a description, learning about shipping, how to receive payments and so on?

Did the item even sell the first time you tried or did you have to adjust things over and over again until you finally found success?

Do you remember the feeling you had the first time you sold something online?  Did you celebrate?  Were you amazed how much money it sold for?  Did you tell your friends and family members?  I’m sure you did!

Selling stuff online is a rush!  You feel this burst of excitement and rush of adrenaline as you achieve greater and greater success and profit.  This excitement and adrenaline rush drives you to do it more and more and to do it better and better.  It drives you to grow your business.  It drives you to make bigger profits or sell more items in the same amount of time as before.  It’s this rush that gets you out of bed and sitting in front of your computer each day trying to figure out how to take things to that next level.

Does selling things today take you as much time as it did the first time? Of course not.  You’ve learned how to scale your business.  You’ve learned how to use technology to your advantage. You’ve learned how to do things smarter and quicker and better.   You’ve grown your business from that single sale that took days to learn to a process that today takes you minutes to duplicate.

I’ll be honest, I get the same goosebumps and excitement all over every time I venture into a new product line.  Of course I know “how to sell” online so I’m not concerned with how to take a photo or how to receive payments.  I have that automated.  But every new product line I bring on I need to learn something new.  I need to learn how to sell it successfully. I need to learn how the market operates, how the customers buy this type of product, how competitors are selling today and how I wish to sell it in my own unique fashion.  I need to learn new terminology, I need to learn customer profiles, I need to learn product features and benefits I may not be familiar with.  I need to learn about competitive products, similar items, substitute items and complimentary items.

It’s impossible to learn all these important factors overnight.  These things take days, weeks, months and sometimes years to learn along the way.

At the beginning of every new product line, it’s a steep learning curve much like the same learning curve we all experienced when we sold our first item.  How far did you go to find your first success on that first item?  Did you give up easy?  Of course you didn’t or you wouldn’t be selling online today.  You did whatever it took to learn the way.  You didn’t know if it was going to take you weeks or months to figure it out.  My point is, you didn’t give up.

The problem: I’ve experienced this myself and have watched many others do the same thing. We work super hard to get an idea from paper to reality.  We invest weeks maybe months taking ideas, refining them, researching them and attempting to implement them.  Typically, we fail at our first attempt, we fail at our second attempt and possibly our third attempt.  We finally find a small success after much trial and error.  We then say to ourselves wow, that was harder than I thought it was going to be.  That was way more work than I imagined.  I can’t justify my time if this is all I’m going to make…At this point, many of us move on to “Greener pastures” or our next great idea, maybe just to repeat the same cycle over and over again.

 Why do I say this?

I just finished spending 5 hours building a single listing for a single new product.  That’s right, 5 hours!  Am I crazy?  Many sellers can list 5,000 items in 5 hours!

My initial reaction was very familiar.  Wow, do I really think it was worth 5 hours of my time to build this single listing for this single item?  Will it really pay off?  I haven’t sold a single one yet.  How many do I need to sell just to break even for 5 hours of my time?   How do I know this is a good use of my time?

The truth is, I don’t know.  I have idea.  All I have is hope and research that “Suggests” this time and effort will pay off over the long-term.  But, as in everything else in life there are no guarantees.

I’ve spent 5 hours already and I’m not even done.  I plan on spending another 3-4 hours shooting and editing a video.  I plan on launching a social campaign. I will also do an email campaign to past customers and maybe even pursue a major website and blog content campaigns for this same single item.

How successful will I be?  Who knows.  At what point should I give up and chase greener pastures?

Do you find yourself in the same dilemma?

The purpose of this blog post is to remind each of us battling day in and day out in the eCommerce trenches that small successes will lead you to the big successes.  You’ve already learned this after selling your first item but maybe could use a friendly reminder of what you had to endure and overcome to find that initial success and grow from there.

The other purpose of this post is to remind you that when you’re starting a new project, launching a new product line or venturing into new territory that small success take a great deal of time and effort to discover.  Success won’t come at the same speed you receive it today doing the things you already know and have already learned.  Give these new projects time to evolve.  Focus your energy on the learning process.  Test many assumptions.  Make small mistakes and small failures and eventually…the small successes will come.

When those small successes come, remember to celebrate!

Cheers to selling smarter!